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The Scanning Puffin III - Heimaey (Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago) - Iceland

Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago is home of about 10 million atlantic Puffins, a short-winged and tailed bird with a large orange-red beak. The largest single colony in the world is located on the Heimaey island along its southern coast. The male Atlantic Puffin builds the nest and exhibits a nest-site fidelity. Puffins eat fish (sandal, herring and capelin) and zooplankton. They have a distinctive ability to hold several small fishes in their beaks. Although their short wings are adapted for swimming, they can fly at high pace over the ocean surface.

Since the Viking times Puffins are hunted for eggs, feathers and meat, which is often featured in the local restaurant menus, either roasted or smoked. Traditionally they are hunted by climbing the cliffs or by fishing them out of the air by means of long nets called haft.


While not flying or eating or breeding, puffins spend most of their time on steep cliffs by scanning the sky from left to right and vice versa like an anti-aircraft radar. I guess that by rotating their heads they can detect moving objects more easily.


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Taken on August 11, 2011